Light Novel Review: Book Girl and the Famished Spirit [Volume 2]

Life goes as normal for the two book club members, Konoha Inoue and Tohko Amano. Tohko gives Konoha three prompts and then he writes up short stories for her to eat.

So when the book club starts receiving strange messages of numbers and phrases, Tohko drags an unconcerned Konoha to find the culprit. While further investigation infers that a ghost might be responsible for this, Konoha finally decides to get to bottom of this mystery after all.

When Konoha and Tohko finally decide to stakeout their mailbox, they both see a strange figure; a girl pale and thin as a lifeless doll…

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If a literature-eating goblin can exist in this world, then why can’t a famished spirit exist as well? Book Girl and the Famished Spirit is another episodic adventure featuring our two book club members. What begins as a trivial hunt for a ghost ends up becoming an  rather dark investigation on a girl with an identity disorder.

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Similar to the last volume, the plot involves an over-arching mystery while mixing the cast’s school life shenanigans. The majority of the novel has Konoha and Tohko interacting with other characters to gather information about this girl. It isn’t until the last couple of chapters that all of the pieces of the puzzle starts to culminate together. It takes a while to get up to that point, but for there on, the novel increases its momentum, bringing an emotional roller-coaster of a romance tragedy and an explosive finale to the tale.

Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is the inspired book of this particular story, but Nomura’s unique scenarios and the use of her own original characters like Ryuto and Maki adds further complexity and depth to her own take on Wuthering Heights.

While Chia is dismissed from this volume, two new characters, Ryuto Sakurai and Hotaru Amemiya are introduced.

Ryuto likes Hotaru and has requested Konoha’s assistance in the matter. However, despite having affection for Hotaru, Ryuto holds feelings for many other girls as well. While he could be pinned as a natural playboy, he’s an interesting character due to his creed of romance and love of thrills. Strictly speaking, he’s a masochist but he’s driven by the belief that hatred is the strongest out of all human emotions and how it makes love that much stronger. It’s an intriguing romance philosophy and its referenced throughout the volume, both in the main conflict and the other cast relationships.

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While Hotaru Amemiya is a dreadfully fragile girl with a body so frail and unresponsive during the day, at night, she becomes Kayano Kujo, a girl proclaiming to be dead. Hotaru / Kayano are enveloped in mystery as one of the focused characters for this volume. She also becomes a main catalyst for reminding Konoha of his past trauma.

“Say Konoha, do you know how to get back things you’ve lost?

You just have to reverse time.”

We also get further development on other side characters. Maki Himekura normally acts like an information broker to Konoha and Tohko, usually leading to comedic situations and that’s mostly the case. However, she plays a major part in the story, both narratively and thematically, through similar familial backgrounds and stylized foreshadowing.

Nanase Kotobuki also gets some more time to stir up some trouble for Konoha. While she appears to dislike Konoha, there is some underlying fondness for him–practically obtaining the status of a classic tsundere. Signs point towards a previous history involving the two of them but nothing has been clearly identified.

Due to a little squabble between Konoha and Tohko, Konoha is left to his own devices, leading him to both Ryuto and Amemiya/Kayano. As he gets more involved between the parties, he is reminded yet again of the incident from when the girl, Miu, threw herself off the roof. In the previous volume, his thoughts of her was to desperately try to understand why she did that. Here, he wonders about the endless possibilities and scenarios about how to fix everything, thinking to himself “what happened if I did this instead”. He continues to think about this through his observation of this mystery and by the end, he finally develops a small acceptance to the incident; a gradual progression of Konoha’s slowly healing scars.

For this volume’s color illustrations, Miho Takeoka paints our characters with cool blues and greens to create an increasing somber tone as you flip the beginning pages. While apparent in the previous volume as well, Takeoka’s usage of placing characters in manga panels to illustrate dramatic impact are used effectively. From the ethereal depiction of Kayano to the stormy fury of Amemiya with Ryuto holding her back, it’s used quite well and the timing for said illustrations are impeccable

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Book Girl and the Famished Spirit ends much more sadder note than Suicidal Mime, and frankly, I can’t imagine how Nomura could be able to turn a story like Wuthering Heights to have a happy ending. Famished Spirit tackles eating disorders, identity crisis, and pure torture on a physical and an emotional level. It’s quite a heavy novel to read. Nonetheless, Nomura accomplishes her mission to effectively express its themes and characters, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Rating: Highly Recommended


Author: Mizuki Nomura

Illustrator: Miho Takeoka

Translator: Karen McGillicuddy

English Publisher: Yen Press

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